Tuneful opening for The Shell in West Chicago

  • John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comThe Leman Middle School Mariachi Band performs at the opening of a new band shell at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago Saturday.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comThe Leman Middle School Mariachi Band performs at the opening of a new band shell at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago Saturday.

  • Michael Kwasman

    Michael Kwasman

  • John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comPeople gather on the lawn at the opening of a new band shell at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago Saturday.

    John Starks/jstarks@dailyherald.comPeople gather on the lawn at the opening of a new band shell at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago Saturday.

 
Daily Herald report
Updated 6/10/2017 5:51 PM

Some dreams take a little longer to come true.

Roughly six years ago, then-West Chicago Mayor Michael Kwasman wanted to build a band shell in Reed-Keppler Park, the kind of place that would become a community gathering spot to enjoy and celebrate the arts.

 

Those plans were shelved when Kwasman died unexpectedly, but his dream lived on.

Two years ago, city officials approached the park district about resurrecting the idea and on Saturday afternoon, The Shell made its debut as the city's newest venue with music and dance from a variety of entertainers, including members of the Leman Middle School Mariachi Band and famed national anthem singer Wayne Messmer and his Big Band.

"It opens a lot of doors," Mayor Ruben Pineda said in the days leading up to Saturday's celebration. "This is a venue that's giving us a lot of opportunity and that is in one of our most beautiful parks."

Construction of The Shell was financed by the city for about $550,000 and the park district will oversee maintenance and programming.

The structure's design resembles a turtle, which was no accident, because it shares Reed-Keppler with Turtle Splash Water Park.

Its inaugural season will feature concerts, a Hawaiian dance performance and regular Friday programs for kids.

A plaque will be installed to recognize Kwasman and his contribution to the project.

"This was his wish," Pineda said.

And his dream come true.

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